Wild Kingdom, Andorra Edition (Summer 1245)

Ikelos tags along. Not worried if any follow.

Very astute point. They will be sleeping. Should we look in the trees or a cave? Being asleep would be best to capture one. Not that we would be asleep of course...I wonder?

"I think I remember from last autumn Roger saying they never even knew any had escaped. He said they lay eggs, but big as they are, I would theorize that they probably make dens like bears instead of nests in the trees. Well, of perhaps nests on or under the ground. A cross of the two? Dests? Nens?" He yawns again.

"So we should look either for caves, or perhaps in the forest they dig amongst the roots of a large tree. So we find more tracks, and try following them this time." Another yawn.

Edith mutters.
We are going to spend a couple of days at each location. Where those tracks were spotted, I want to camp there and spend a few nights looking for clues.At the river's end, I want to interview the woodsman that spotted something, stay there awhile and search for nests/dens. Then at Featherbottom's cabin. I want to give it a good going over. Look around the area.
That's just three lead locations to get us started. Should take a few weeks at least. If we run into a good lead, we might me into this for the better part of the season.
You don't have to worry about logistics. I had inquired about this thing called the Rod of Transportation. Turns out someone else is using it, but no worries. Carmen set me up with a tent that fits in a small pack and can shelter all of us. An enchanted device her father made. She called it "The Palatial Pavilion of Perez". Then as for supplies, we don't need to carry much. The boys here can zip about as needed to get things. And maybe some hunting and foraging will be good for us.

Okay, I confess. I used Google maps to take a satellite look at the real actual Arans Andorra. I zoomed in and grabbed a few authentic geographic names that l thought looked cool.

The Woad stands around at full ready and waiting to go. He has the patience of a stone, but as he speaks he is clearly eager to go. Now.
Normally all those practicalities and logistics are part of going on expeditions. In Hiberbia, these things are a part of toughening you up. It is almost a luxury to have everything taken care of, by bot having to know whether you prepare for a day trip or an entire season...all that is new to The Woad.. He does suppose this ennables us all to focus on the matter at hand rather than camping and food issues.
While we walk, can some of the grogs tell the Woad any details of combat with the opwlbears, any tactical issues about them? Or any tactical issues regarding the Grogs, how they fight, who gives orders, and also about the other magi?
The Woad will start: He does not mind fighting up close, along the Grogs, but has ranged magic. Fighting animal-like enemies is somewhat new to him, his back of tricks may be somewhat reduced when not fighting armed and armoured men. But he is sure he can tip the odds in favour of the Grogs. The beak of the owlbears may turn out to be less lethal than usual.
Who is next?

Mateu pats the side of Torah the donkey. We are going hunting Torah! You see, there are other stuff besides heretics to be hunted! A nice change of pace after all those year sin the frontier, don't you think? yeah, I know I am boruing you. Return to your books. Hahah. Mateu laughs at his own (really bad) joke and follows the others with torah on a long and loose leash. The donkey trots easily down the poath woiththe others.

I assume we are going on foot and that we are usng a donkey as a load animal to carry the supplies and move faster. I will be using Torah, Mateu's donkey. Torah is a Catalan donkey, one of the fathers of the american donkey (actually the construction of the american railways almost drove it to extinction due to almost all stallions going overseas) and is one of the "best" (due to size and temperament) in the world. Males are as large as a horse

I shall presume much of the conversation takes place over the course of the journey. Oscar and Roger each lead a Catalan donkey as well, carrying a few supplies and some equipment. They hand the reigns off to a third that is also coming with. Private Snafu.
If anyone observes closely, Edith tends to glide easily about the terrain. Modi and Magni are also pretty adept, and confusing. Sometimes one is ahead and the other behind, but you check again and it seems the other way around.

Edith talks about logistics and expedition protocol. Roberto told me that back in the day, the Gauntlet for House Flambeau used to be that they would drop you off somewhere alone, no idea where you were and without supplies, and then you had to find your way back home or meet your master ata certain time and place. You had like thirty days or something, and if you failed you were kicked out. Some apprentice started a huge fire in Barcelona one time, so I guess why they don't do that anymore.
As for who is in charge, nobody really. Technically, Oscar there is responsible for the men in his charge. None of the rest of us are members. We are guests of the covenant, waiting for the council to vote on our petitions. This is, like, one of those tasks they can ask of us. We are demonstrating our worth I guess.
I'm kinda in charge I guess? I organized the whole thing. My son and nephew, they'll fall in line.
Old Bert once told me something about different formations. Not sure what he meant. I know he's testing me, despite what he says.
I think it is a chain of command thing, like you were saying when you asked about who gives orders. Units and sub units. Okay, we got three trained soldiers, the knight, and the boys. If it comes to combat, I'll take charge of the boys, you team up with the knight. The soldiers will be responsible for protecting the other two magi.
Does that work?

As for experience with owlbears, the only one here that has ever actually seem one would be Oscar.
It was about thirteen years ago, maybe fourteen. A year or two after the Massacre. There were so few of us left, so there were a bunch of new recruits and Captain Alejandro was leading a training expedition. Get them used to working with magi. But itwas more like we were training the magi instead! We ran into Vibria's cousin, the Fat Drake, who had been hunting owlbears. We all laughed, but sure enough, three days later we walking along when one lunged at us from the blackness of the woods!
It looked like...

This one recruit, Chuckles, he wet his pants! One of the magi took it out with a firebolt. Vibria? Or Gardiatus maybe?
We were going to investigate more, but then that whole Ghoul Goulio thing happened. Then Vocis and Vibria confronted the mad wizard that was breeding them, made some deal where they would help him with the drakes, and that poor wizard got himself killed trying to use physical force negotiating with Venkath.

Oh, and what Edith said is right. You are guests of the covenant, and they are hosting an expedition. I am in charge of protection and facilitation. But Edith has it covered. The young men, they are not boys anymore, they can teleport at will. The pavilion tent is packed with the gear. And I have an ace up my sleeve.

The Woad will try to engage one of the scout/guide grogs in conversation- hoping he speaks Latin - in order to learn the local geography, starting with landmarks.

Both Oscar and Roger speak Latin and know the area fairly well. Snafu on the other hand, he gets yes and no confused and just took the job a month ago.
Oscar will chat you up. He is the outgoing type.
The whole area is mountains and valleys. It is said that there are over sixty different peaks. Lots of little river valleys too. Arans is the name of this mountain peak. The one we are in the shadow of. We are on the east side of the mountain, close by a river named Valira d'Orient, a tributary of the Gran Valira.
If ever you are lost, take to the sky and look for the large river that all the smaller rivers flow into. Then look for the largest branch that flows north-south. Follow that north until you find your way back.

Full discllosure: That came from a crash course study I did using Wikipedia and google maps.
Geography of Andorra
Gran Valira
Google Map
As for the map, the open field on a plateau just west of the village is where the covenant is located. You cannot see it because it is shrouded in a regio because of some future event we haven't made up yet.

Great, it's Oscar the Woad will be bugging then.

The Woad thanks you, Oscar. He wishes to learn as much about the locale as be can, that is a must. After this expedition, the Woad would like to continue this learning, and accompany you or other scouts out on patrol. The kind of magus which the Woad is cannot simply sit at home in the lab it library, he craves the outside air.
Knowing the grography, the waypoints, names of rivers and peaks is a beginning. But he also needs to learn about the local flora and fauna, especially anything supernatural. Also dangerous terrain, places for shelter, the predominant weather season by season.

BTW that whole area is awesome, much more exciting terrain than flat Denmark. Barcelona is the closest I've been to the area.

OOC: Nowadays that area is a skiing station :slight_smile: Gran Valira. It is well worth a visit. I prefer summer, since it is cool and I do not favour snow myself. Hiking and other mountain sports are commonly practiced there. Great place for mountain biking, even if challenging for amateurs like me!

Mateu is happy to have ditched his heavier armor and gone with the lighter one. he has his heavier armor loaded in Torah just in case he has time to load it up, but the hike is better of you are not overloaded. He is not exactly comfortable with the wool padding (that thing itches) and his mail hauberk, but he is used to wear it in the raids into Moorish territory, so the cool air of the Pyrenees makes him happy and he is comfortable enough.

Toah trudges behind him. Not a horse, but much better suited for this terrain than either Emir or Prefectus: Those two would simply break a leg in this steep terrain, and the area was not flat enough for a good cavalry charge anyway. So Torah it is. The Catalan donkey keeps moving easily in the treacherous terrain.

Mateu looks around and feels nice. He is out hunting! and in a great place that shows God's grand plan: beautiful terrain and a pleasant climate, with sharp edges to warn humankind to be alert for the servants of Evil.

Mateu listens intently to what the guides have to say. After a while he also notices the odd behaviour of the 2 guards accompanying Edith and that makes him a little bit tense. he is here to observe on the magi (those creeps...) but he is still unused to magic. He covers the rear of the line to put some distance between himself and the switching guards.

Oscar, you mention "take to the sky" very casually. Is it usual for the resident magi to be able to fly? How about the grogs then, do they have magic devices lent to them? The Woad is very much attuned to the earth and rocks, and flying is not a capacity of his, nor a priority for the forseeable future. He is sure flying eases both navigation and travel, but he is afraid he must do it the hard way, at least to begin with.
Ooh, what are those berries - are they poisonous?

Ikelos claps a hand to Marcellus' shoulder. Cheer up tired one. One we reach the area that we saw the tracks you can have a nap. Then we can look for the owlbears at night.

Marcellus grumbles something unintelligible.

Elderberries? Nasty. Eat too many of then and you will get nauseous. They can be boiled down to make wine. Birds and animals eat them.
As for telling you to fly, I mean, you are a wizard. I don't know what you can do. One day you guys say "oh, I can't do that, magic doesn't work that way", and the next day your all "I now know ten ways to do that". Flying, turning invisible, turning people into frogs, making magic potions, it's what you guys do. Not saying everyone does everything. But I have met twenty or thirty wizards in my day. The trick I mentioned, I tend to see these again and again.
Except the frog thing. Never seen that, but there are stories.
To find your way on the ground, head down hill. Find a stream or river. They all find their way to the Gran Valira. That will lead you to La Vella, the "capitol" of Andorra. That's where Bellaquin covenant is located.You can get help there, or just ignore those jerks and head due north for about five miles. Close. Uncomfortably close. But the mountains give us separation. And they make travel difficult. Stick to the rivers. Find a settlement, get directions, rent a raft.
The dangerous terrain is up in the mountains. Landslides and avalanches. Sometimes the earth trembles ever so slightly. The tumbling slumber of the great dragon of the Pyrenees. Or a giant sleeping in a mountain. Arans has one of those. A member of Andorra, Marcellus Ex-Miscellanea. He went mad and was warping into a giant, so for his own safety, Archmagus Antonio placed him in stasis inside the Ice Cavern.
The natural wildlife is pretty common for the area; bears, wolves, owls, foxes, martens, rabbits, hares, eagles, vultures, ducks, deer, boar, geese, trout, pike, bats, shrews, stoats, and crayfish. There are interesting and unique beasts, as well as fantastic creatures. The ibex, the chamois, various drakes and serpents, griffons, and of course, owlbears.

Okay, you are certain itis Magni on point. They look similar, but Magni is the one with the white shirt. Modi has a red shirt, and is guarding the rear.
They decide to play with Mateu.
Mateu slips to the rear as stated, and Modi passes him up allowing him to take the vanguard. Modi passes from sight (blinking ahead to plot with his brother). Magni comes jogging up from behind Mateu, claiming he just took a leak and was catching up. Then he trots forward, out of sight. Then Modi again, comes jogging up talking about an ibex he just spotted. He trots on ahead. Then they both come trotting up from behind.

Mateu narrows his eyes. He is sure it is Modi. Or was it magni? Those guys look alike, dress alike and have similar names. it is impossible not to confuse them!!!
Weren't they ahead!?!?
After a few back and forths Mateu is totally bewildered and grasping his crucifix. Modi and Magni decide to stop messing around when he unfastens the clasps securing his sword and looks at them with eyes that say "I am starting to get very confused and somewhat afraid, and when I am in this mental state there can be chopping". The cousins grin and wink to each other and take the vanguard. For a while at least.
When Mateu relaxes Modi passes by his side again. Mateu screams.

Friend Mateu, be like a rock - steady and unconcerned by flighty things, like leaves blown about in the wind seemingly at random. The Woad has given up on the matter. Once battle starts, we'll see how they fare. With any luck they turn out to be efficient, or simply inadverdently helpful by creating confusion and distractions.

As morning progresses, Marcellus slowly becomes more alert and coherent. A few times, he stops to look at tracks on the ground as the group crosses animal paths in the forest.

Giving him time to wake up, the Woad leaves Marcellus alone until he seems ready.

Sodales Marcellus, you are knowledgable about animals? Both tracking and animal lore seems useful here. But do you know of animals local to this place? The Woad Knows a fair bit about the beasts of Hibernia, but there has been little similarities as yet. He must devote himself to learning this as well.

"I cannot say I am an expert tracker, for in truth I am not. But I grew up about a hundred leagues west of here, in the mountains, so this is much like my home. So I have some familiarity with the mundane animals that live around here, as they are not much different. I am less knowledgeable about the more unusual ones such as these owlbears, but I am trying to learn more."